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atgordon

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Wilmington, North Carolina USA
  • Occupation
    Retired
  • Boat Name
    Tresco
  • Boat Location
    Hampstead, NC, USA

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  1. I realized that I had not covered the one thing that caused us some difficulties for the first few days, that might also catch out other inexperienced boaters. Namely, managing electrical power on the boat. The folks at Anglo Welsh did run through the “how to manage power” on the boat, but it was not very detailed (or I didn’t listen closely, which is more likely), hence we did run out of electrical power overnight on Day 2! Like most cruising boats, our boat had two batteries, one for the engine, one for the house (or boat). Both are charged when the engine is running. But only the boat battery is available when the engine isn’t running. The boat had an inverter system, that converted the 12v battery power to 240v AC power. This was used for the microwave, hair dryer and electrical outlets. They did tell us explicitly not to use the microwave or hairdryer when the engine was stopped! What tripped us up was the 240v outlets … 3 adults each with a laptop and a cell phone! All plugged in to charge in the evening/night (when the engine was stopped). The next morning, the boat battery voltmeter (I think it was labelled battery condition meter) was in the red! We had exhausted the boat battery. The boat engine started fine since the engine battery is protected from discharge by inept boaters like us, and by the end of the next day, plenty of charge in the boat battery. The 12v to 240V inverters on boats are pretty advanced items, but they are not efficient … it takes a lot of out of the battery to run the outlets (that why so many items on a boat are 12v: central heating, fridge, TV, radio, lights, etc.). If you have to use the inverter, try to do so when the engine is running. Also, we hadn’t noticed that there was a 12v accessory outlet (as found in cars) near the TV. From that time onwards, all cell phone charging was done from the 12v outlet. We also charged laptops from the 240v outlets during the day when the engine was running and shut down the inverter when we had finished using the engine for the day. We never ran out of power from that time onwards!
  2. The two solo boaters moored in Wolverhampton City Centre organized a team of CDT volunteers to help them through the flight. We left 30 minutes later and not a volunteer in sight!
  3. Since my daughter was the fittest crew member, she would go ahead on the flights to prep the locks, and my wife soldiered on single handled closing the gates as I departed. On the second set of flights going into B'ham, we passed an outward bound boat, and that saved us a ton of time since the water level was set for us for all 13 locks. I should mention that on the Wolverhampton flight, every lock needed to filled! The canal gods were not looking after us that day!
  4. I spoke with the Anglo Welsh folks upon our return, and they said that the design of the counter on Leo II was the reason it reversed so badly. They did say that they were happy to advise on boats that reversed "well" and also to give lessons to boaters who were unsure. Once I got the hang of it, I was fine and was able to reverse into tight moorings! By the end of the trip, my wife though I was better going backwards than I was going forwards!
  5. Thanks! The canal planning sources I mentioned earlier were a great help, but it did take a fair amount of time to plan, and then re-plan when you realize that you cannot make 2.5 MPH all of the time! I spent less time route planning a 600nm trip from Wilmington, NC to Bermuda (but a lot more time on weather planning). Our UK weather planning was the usual Met Office roll of the dice in October - although we only had 2 rainy days!
  6. Me! I tried to get the crew to helm but they were very nervous. Our first few days were on the T&M from Stafford to Tamworth, and the waterway was busy, so they were very nervous when meeting other boats. If we had gone anti-clockwise on the Staffs and Worcs, which was much quieter (and more consistently 2-boats wide), they would probably have done better. Either way, neither of them wanted to steer into a lock, so I was stuck at the back for 2 weeks. Which I thoroughly enjoyed for all the reasons you know well and love!
  7. I certainly would, and I'm recommending that our US boating friends consider narrow boating in the UK. My wife on the other hand would only want to narrow boat again on canals without locks (or with a larger crew)!
  8. Having completed the Black Country Ring over a two-week period in early October, I thought it might be helpful to post some reflections on our trip for the benefit of others thinking of narrow boating but lacking any experience. I have boated most of my adult life, almost all coastal or ocean sailing and power boating. We hired our boat, Leo II, from Anglo Welsh in Great Hayward. The boat was spotlessly clean and well equipped. They mistook my boating experience for the ability to handle a 62 ft narrow Boat! I was OK going forward, but reversing was a challenge with our boat. I would strongly suggest that you allow the hire company folks to walk you through the whole going backwards (off at tangent: I quickly realized that using nautical terms like going astern drew disapproving looks from other boaters … narrow boating terms are more akin to a car than a sea going boat!). I knew I needed advice, so one day in, I asked an experienced full-time cruising boater for advice: he told me to get the boat going backwards, and once under way, move the tiller as if going forward and goose the throttle in forward gear briskly in a short bursts: this will move the bow in the desired direction! Repeat as often as needed! He did add that he had owned a boat for 20+ years and still had the odd difficult reverse that tripped him up. I planned the trip in advance so I knew roughly where we would be most nights. The two primary sources of information that I used were CanalPlanAC (what a superb tool! Give generously if you use this free resource), and Waterway Routes maps (not charts!). Since the maps are PDFs I was able to print the full colour pages that I needed on A3 paper and had them laminated back-to-back. I used the maps all the time! Once underway, I also used Open Canal Map app on my iPhone. Another great tool for confirming exactly where you are at any time. We had planned to get a Tesco delivery to the boatyard but left it too late to get a slot. Luckily, our first stop in Rugeley was very close to a big Tesco’s. Book your slot 3 weeks in advance! When planning our stops, I used Google maps to ensure that there were nearby pubs/restaurants and if possible, a supermarket. We mostly ate out for dinner, apart from two nights on board. I used CanalWorld extensively to work out safe moorings. If you search on the area you plan to stop, you will find very good advice on safe moorings. Rugeley was very busy and we ended up mooring south of the visitor moorings on the bank with pins. Since we were on our way to Gas Street basin in Birmingham, I was very conscious that we needed a safe mooring before we tackled the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal flights (13 + 11). I came across a post that mentioned Star City CRT 24-hour moorings: that meant a half mile reverse from Salford Junction on the Grand Union to the moorings. Thankfully, there was no boat traffic and with help from my first mate (daughter) on the tow path with the centre line, we pulled off our marathon reverse. The mooring was clean and safe, and could accommodate 2 or 3 boats. Access to the restaurants in Star City was via a CRT gate. I highly recommend this mooring! We found a 48-hour mooring in Gas Street Basin. The first night was very quiet, but since we were outside a night club that opened on Fridays from 8:00PM to 2AM, we moved to the moorings on the BCN near the Lego Centre. Both moorings were very quiet at night, although the early morning traffic on the BCN did rock the boat a lot! (Must have been hire boaters who never slow down for moored boats!) Our next stop was at the Black Country Museum. There are a couple of 24-hour moorings inside the CRT gated area, but it was busy, so we moored on the 24-hour mooring back along the canal near a park. Once again, quiet and safe. It was too much to try and complete the Wolverhampton flight (21 locks) after leaving the BCM, so we moored in the centre of Wolverhampton at the CRT 24-hr moorings. I was very nervous about mooring here, but a couple of solo full-time cruisers were moored nearby and they said it was generally OK on week nights, and it was! Once we cleared the Wolverhampton flight, our return journey was very leisurely, and the Staffs and Worcs is a lot quieter than the T&M. We stopped at Autherley Junction, Gailey and Penkridge. All very safe and near good pubs and food. I’ll finish with an anecdote: although Brits, we live in North Carolina now, and we have become used to US style central heating, which is on 24 hours a day! The boat was equipped with a gas fired central heating, but without a thermostat: control being the adjustable vales on each radiator. We would leave the heating on once we moored through the night with the valves turned down … we burned through our Calor gas very quickly, and so went back to just wrapping up warmly each night! Overall, it was a great experience that I would recommend to others, but bear in mind, narrow boating can be hard work. There are a lot of locks on the way to, and from, Birmingham, so you need a fit crew to handle all the work. Luckily, I had two able helpers: wife and adult daughter!
  9. atgordon

    atgordon

  10. atgordon

    atgordon

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